Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian Nuclear Talks: His Letter to President Obama
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, “Iran’s paramount political figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has responded to overtures from President Barack Obama seeking better relations by sending secret communications of his own to the White House.” The report went on to say that “The Iranian cleric wrote to Mr. Obama in recent weeks in response to an October presidential letter that raised the possibility of U.S.-Iranian cooperation in fighting Islamic State if a nuclear deal is secured, according to an Iranian diplomat. The supreme leader’s response was “respectful” but noncommittal, the diplomat said.”
The United States government also stated that a letter did exist (Wall Street Journal, 2015).
This is an important development. As Iran and the United States are in nuclear talks, hopefully this letter will help in the countries coming to an agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
But what I also found interesting with regards to the letter has to do with who the letter came from; the letter was from Iran’s Supreme Leader, and not President Hassan Rouhani. This is significant because the ultimate political (and religious) power in the country is with the Supreme Leader, who appoints six members of the Guardian Council, the group that allows candidates to run, and the group that can veto laws from parliament.
Thus, not only does the real power exist with the Ayatollah, but the fact the he wrote the letter seems to suggest that the issue is of high importance to him, that he is involving himself more directly with regards to the issue.